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Lesson Plan

Leading to Great Places in the Elementary Classroom

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Leading to Great Places in the Elementary Classroom

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Sharon Roth

Sharon Roth

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



A story's lead begins the reader's adventure; yet it can just as likely end that odyssey if those opening words do not immediately entrance the reader. This lesson examines examples of leads in children's literature, focusing on strategies such as setting, action, character, reflection, event, and dialogue in a shared reading experience. Students rank several leads from novels as they are read aloud and discuss their rankings. They then generate different leads for a read aloud book in the classroom, using different strategies for each. Finally, they write or revise a lead in one of their pieces of writing.

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Great Leads handout: This handout provides examples of great leads from children's literature.

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This lesson asks students to position themselves alongside the writers of the picture and chapter books that they read in the classroom. By using existing texts as models for their own writing, students learn "ways of reading texts like writers, developing a sense of craft and genre in writing" (Ray 2001, p 132) - something Katie Wood Ray recommends as a whole class unit of study in the writing workshop.  In her book In the Middle: Writing, Reading, and Learning with Adolescents, Nancie Atwell suggests that  "mini-lessons on leads helps students internalize stylistic concerns." Moreover, exposing students to different kinds of leads helps students see the importance of voice and how people respond to the literature.

Further Reading

Atwell, Nancie. 1998. In the Middle Writing, Reading, and Learning with Adolescents. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


Ray, Katie Wood. 2001. Writing Workshop, The: Working through the Hard Parts (And They're All Hard Parts). Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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